There’s no turning back now. The venue’s booked, the invites are out, and it’s very gradually dawning on you that you’ve signed your life away you’re about to make what is arguably the biggest commitment one can make in their lifetime.
So, you’d bloody better look good while doing it.
Given that you probably already have enough things to lose sleep over, we thought a guide on what you should wear when tying the knot would be helpful.
But before we start, a word of advice from the experts on the importance of fit: “A well-fitting suit can hide a multitude of sins,” says Dave Shaw of Moss Bros. “Even in the case of men who are more portly, or who have ‘grown into themselves’.”
As with all tailoring, good fit is paramount, so regardless of which option below you go for, you’ll want to ensure you’re meticulously measured before trying anything on.
The Morning Suit
Very much the traditionalist? Then chances are you’ve already decided on a classic morning suit (a tailcoat, a dress shirt either with a turndown or wing collar that is single- or double-cuffed, a waistcoat, and a pair of formal trousers), but you’re probably still weighing up whether to buy or hire.
If money’s no object, then you’re likely not all that fussed on whether you’ll get an opportunity to wear your wedding suit post-nuptials, but if, on the other hand, you’d rather only splurge on something you’ll get decent mileage from, look for a morning suit that you can a) wear for other formal events (few and far between for most, but you could dust it down for a day at the races, especially if you find yourself in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot) or b) divvy up into suit separates that can be worn in other contexts – e.g. the waistcoat or trousers.
Some key brands to consider for high quality formalwear include Savile Row stalwarts like Gieves & Hawkes and Huntsman, as well as traditional British tailoring brands such as Hackett, Ede & Ravenscroft and Favourbrook.
On the high street, Moss Bros, M&S and Charles Tyrwhitt all produce high quality morning attire at more affordable price points. Just remember to factor professional alterations into your overall budget.
If you’re watching the pennies because your bride (or, indeed, groom) has spent a sizeable chunk of your wedding fund on exotic floral arrangements or drone cameras, then maybe consider hiring instead. Moss Bros and Austin Reed both offer a wedding formalwear hire service, allowing you to find a suit that fits well but won’t leave you financially crippled.
Not just an evening-appropriate option, the tuxedo sits somewhere between the grandeur of the morning suit and the comparatively casual feel of the lounge suit. What’s more, you’re bound to get plenty of post-wedding wear out of a quality tux, as it’ll quickly become your go-to for everything from a New Year’s Eve ball to a work-related awards ceremony. So, it’s best to cough up and buy rather than hire this one.
While black is a classic choice (and likely your best bet if you want to wear this for a whole manner of other occasions), midnight blue is an equally advisable option – especially if it complements other hues in the wedding colour scheme.
The Lounge Suit
If the idea of donning a morning coat or tux makes you shudder, then turn to less formal types of tailoring instead. While a wedding is very much your day for wearing what you want, there are a few options that are particularly well-suited to the occasion.
First up, you need to decide on style and cut. A slim-fit, single-breasted two-piece is a slick and contemporary choice for the groom who wants to keep things simple, but still look exceptionally sharp.
However, classic-fitting double-breasted or three-piece suits are also worth considering – especially if you’re looking for something that makes a statement but is still resolutely timeless.
Season & Colour
Next, assess the season. If your wedding is scheduled for late spring, then its mild, potentially humid weather will call for a suit considerably different to one that’s appropriate for a marriage that’s pencilled in for mid-January.
For high summer weddings or those taking place in hotter climes, consider a linen or lightweight cotton design to ensure you stay looking cool and feeling fresh for those official photos. On the flip side, a good quality wool suit will keep you from shivering more than normal (jitters will – let’s face it – be par for the course) at a wintertime ceremony.
When it comes to colour, you’ll need to again bear in mind the season. Black, grey (from stone to charcoal) and deeper shades of blue work well year-round, while more adventurous choices like white and pastel hues tend to look their best during the warmer, brighter summer months.
You also need to take into account your bride or groom’s choice of wedding wear – you’re aiming for harmony here (and you don’t want to fall at the first hurdle) so colours will either need to match or contrast pleasingly.
Single-Breasted Suit Lookbook
Double-Breasted & Three-Piece Suit Lookbook
Bespoke, Made-To-Measure Or Off-The-Rack?
Finally, decide – in light of the choices you’ve made above – whether you want to go bespoke or are happy with an off-the-rack option. Making use of an expert tailor’s bespoke service is something every man should experience once in their lifetime, and what better occasion than your own wedding day?
If the budget won’t quite stretch, there are a few mid-priced brands that offer exceptional made-to-measure suits these days – Reiss (from £550) and Aquascutum (from £750) being two of them. This type of service guarantees a glove-like fit and still allows for a great amount of customisation – including monogramming, button choice and jacket lining colour – ensuring that your wedding suit is unique to you.
Note: If you’re thinking of going down the bespoke or made-to-measure route, be sure to leave plenty of time – many places recommend undergoing the process at least twelve weeks beforehand.
Alternatively, if you’re conscious of not crippling yourself with debt for what is, cynically speaking, a 24-hour party, then select an off-the-rack style that’s as close to perfect as possible and see a tailor for any necessary post-purchase alterations.
Remember that outside of standard adjustments to how it fits, any tailor worth their salt can also help personalise your suit by changing the jacket lining, switching buttons, etc. – elevating an everyday high street design into something truly worthy of the occasion.
The Smart-Casual Alternative
Impromptu wedding in Vegas? Beach wedding in Bali? Sometimes formal tailoring just isn’t required, so why not loosen the tie knot a little?
Now, we’re not suggesting you rock up to one of the most momentous occasions of your life in a pair of distressed jeans, a fraying T-shirt and beanie, but there are plenty more laid-back alternatives to traditional groomswear, which are typically made up of a combination of the following elements: smartly-fitting chinos or casual trousers, a long-sleeved button-down shirt, and a blazer.
Mix and match classic hues such as navy, black and grey with lighter neutrals like beige and stone and you’re on to a winning look that’s slightly more relaxed but still smart enough to say your vows in.
The Finishing Touches
While the big day is sure to be one of the most memorable of your life (whether or not that’s for how merciless a roasting your best man gave you during his speech), a wedding is a formal event and if you’re honouring tradition in a suit, then it’s definitely worth considering the subtle additions that make your look truly personal.
“Grooms should choose accessories carefully by ensuring that their chosen colours match or contrast with the colour scheme of the bridesmaids’ dresses or decorations at the ceremony,” says Dave Shaw. So, be sure to check in with the rest of the wedding party before you purchase.
A morning suit man? Then look to keep the colour of your tie and pocket square in sync with the existing colour scheme – for example, ivory to match a bride’s dress – and always, always finish off with a pair of quality black Oxford shoes.
Tempted by the tux? Then, don’t meddle with this timeless model: stick to black Oxfords or slippers for a slightly dressier effect, and match your bow tie and cummerbund to the colour of your tuxedo for consistency.
If the lounge suit is more your kind of look, then again keep the overall colour scheme in mind and choose either a matching or complementary shade for your tie, pocket square and – if you’re wearing one – boutonnière. Footwear-wise, keep it classic with a pair of black or brown (depending on the colour of your suit) Oxfords or Derbies.
Finally, if you’re taking the road less travelled and wearing something less traditional, i.e. the shirt, blazer and trousers combo, keep your accessories similarly classic with a tie and pocket square, quality leather belt and a pair of neutral brogues, monk-straps or loafers.
Whether it’s the budget or thought of potentially making a serious style blunder that you’re concerned about, the above advice should see you look just right for the all-important rites.
Now you can turn your attention to the honeymoon.
Have any wedding styling advice to share? What are you wearing to your wedding?
Let us know in the comments section.